Will Samsung Produce the Oculus Rift?
Yesterday’s news that Samsung’s mobile division might see an executive shakeup doesn’t seem to have affected the company’s partnership with virtual reality startup Oculus VR. Yesterday, CNET reported that Brendan Iribe, Oculus’s founder and CEO, publicly teased future products to come from the companies’ collaboration now that the Gear VR has been successfully launched.
Iribe had this to say at South Korea’s Startup Nations Summit:
“We’ll work closely with Samsung to develop more products. We successfully launched the Gar VR with Samsung this year and I’m sure we will continue close relation with Samsung, as always.”
As to what form those products might take, Iribe was tight-lipped. For its part, Samsung declined to comment on his statements, leaving us in the dark about what other virtual reality devices the two might create. There are some interesting possibilities, however.
For starters, Oculus has yet to officially release its flagship virtual reality headset, the Rift – though Iribe said earlier this month that it’s “close.” All that’s available now are devkits, which aren’t consumer-ready devices. Moreover, while Facebook can now claim Oculus as a subsidiary company, that doesn’t mean that Facebook has the technical knowhow or experience to actually help Oculus bring its first device to market. There needs to be real, practical knowledge of manufacturing and supply chains to actually, you know, make something and sell it in working condition. That, I think, is where Samsung will come in.
Oculus helped Samsung create the Gear VR headset. Why shouldn’t the collaboration go the other way, too? Oculus will certainly need assistance in terms of manufacturing the consumer version of the Rift, and Samsung already has the infrastructure in place to get this done. Moreover, there are already Samsung-made parts living inside of the Rift devkit – a Galaxy Note 3 display, to be specific. It seems like a foregone conclusion that the three companies will work together to bring the Rift to consumers – and if that’s the case, it’ll be a major feather in Samsung’s badly battered cap.
Here’s another idea: there are theories that Samsung is working with Oculus and Facebook to take on Google in the world of wearable computers. Google is mostly unopposed in terms of Google Glass. Amazingly, Glass is by far the most successful face-worn computer, despite looking ridiculous. Samsung has lately been trying to break free of its dependence on Google in terms of Android (which is why all but one of its smartwatches run Tizen). Facebook, likewise, is a rival to Google in terms of holding stores of user data and social networking. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine these two companies coming together through Oculus to take on Google and make a better Glass than Glass.
Food for thought, eh? Hopefully we’ll hear more about potential products coming from the Samsung-Oculus collaboration before too long.
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